Other Editors

Opioid crisis demands extraordinary actions

Minnesota counties have opened up an important new front in the war on opioids.

At least 20 counties, including Olmsted and Mower, plan to file a lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids to recover at least some of the costs of dealing with this public health emergency.

The Trump administration has declared opioid abuse a national emergency, and the county actions recognize that and call attention to the local costs — human and financial — of dealing with a deadly health crisis that many believe is due in part to the overprescription of drugs, for which the manufacturers and distributors bear some responsibility and accountability….

This legal effort is not unlike Minnesota’s historic litigation against tobacco companies 20 years ago, which as described by the Mitchell Hamline Law School, “changed the way America approaches the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.”

It’s far too early to say the litigation can help achieve an outcome of that magnitude, but public health officials and county board members say it’s a place to start.

“It’s one thing we can do to join our voice with others across the nation,” said Sheila Kiscaden, who was one of five Olmsted County commissioners to vote to authorize the action last month….

Litigation isn’t the only way to get at reducing prescription opioid addiction, by any means, but it can have an immediate impact on the companies that control the production and flow.

In an emergency, you take extraordinary actions. Court action is one extraordinary way to get at the root of the opioid epidemic.

— Post Bulletin